Saturday, August 17, 9 p.m.
Rozz-Tox, 2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island IL
French coldwave outfit Lovataraxx visits Rozz-Tox on August 17, joining a bill of local acts that includes White Batzzz, Nonnie Parry, and Pulsing.
Lovataraxx's musicians hail from Grenoble, France, and their summer tour takes them to more than 30 dates in the continental U.S. Their percussive, synth-heavy music fits loosely into the coldwave genre, with tracks built over bludgeoning electronic baselines, skittering synth melodies, and heavy four-on-the-floor drum programming. Over all of this, two different vocalists cast their contrasting leads into the claustrophobic mix: Kleo Pattern chants her monotone rhythmic lines and dry, spoken word diatribes that swing closer to the electro tradition, while Almond Blossom offers up more darkly Gothic, melodic vocal lines in the school of Bauhaus or Depeche Mode. Their most recent release, 2017’s Kairos, spans a wide menu of electronic pop styles, from hyper-jittery, high-BPM percussion workouts (“Minted Mind”) to smoky, dungeon-crawling synth dirges (“Dart”) to pure aerobic workouts fit for running in place in tight Day-Glo spandex (“Ana Venus”).
Moline’s own White Batzzz consists of producers/vocalists Uriel Cerqueda and Jorge Tapia. Their lo-fi brand of chillwave-adjacent production bubbles with bright synth melodies, clean-toned guitar solos, and hip-hop-informed drum programming. The band's self-titled 2018 EP benefits from a general looseness and casual attitude, sounding like these tracks came together quickly and intuitively, with each song lasting barely two minutes or less. The aptly titled “Moping” swirls over a hard-chorused electric keyboard line and loping drum beats, as swooning vocal lines evoke some vision of R&B as seen through a haze of weed smoke and disfiguring Instagram filters.
Chicago’s Nonnie Parry bash out a style of dark, Gothic rock more in step with the music of Lovataraxx, sporting wonderfully bratty lead vocals and scuzzed out basslines that prod each track toward some semblance of danceability. Its short EP 7 Veils of Fantasy, released at the end of 2018, showcases seven tracks that spark into existence and fade two-or-so minutes later, each of which churns through noisy riffs and laconic vocal melodies. The tones on display here are remarkably consistent between tracks, as if each burst is just another variation on a central theme, and that theme is “We’re hanging out in a graveyard, drinking shitty beer, thinking about death.”
Moline-based band Pulsing strays the farthest from the coldwave/Goth-rock template with its video-game-inspired, hybridized 8-bit tracks that combine live drums and guitar with the squalling sounds of Gameboy synthesis. Coming off something like a more aggressive, less poppy version of 8-bit rock godfathers Anamanaguchi, Pulsing keeps the energy high and the bizarre, chirpy Gameboy tones heavy in the mix on the outfit's Am Happy EP, released earlier this year. Its music shines the most when the Gameboy synth melodies are allowed to stretch into more complex harmonies and chord progressions, as on the highlight “Good Ghost,” which pits catchy Mega Man-core melodies and squelching square waves against distorted guitar chords and post-hardcore drum breakdowns. Given a good, even mix in a live setting, Pulsing definitely has the capacity to surprise its audience with an atypical approach to video-game music and live-rock performance.
Lovataraxx, White Batzzz, Nonnie Parry, and Pulsing play Rock Island's Rozz-Tox on August 17, admission to the 9 p.m. show concert is a $5-10 sliding scale, and more information is available by calling (309)200-0978 or visiting RozzTox.com.